In the past, sending money from Canada to other countries was a bit of a challenge. It was expensive, time-consuming, and tedious.
Now, the process is much easier, and you don’t even need to leave your house to do it.
In this guide, I break down the different ways you can send money abroad from Canada, to help you choose the option that’s most convenient for you.
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There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing the best method to send money abroad from Canada. These factors include transfer fees, exchange rates, and delivery speeds, which I discuss below.
Although sending money abroad is cheaper than it used to be, there’s still a small fee to be paid. Financial institutions typically charge fixed fees, percentage fees, or both.
Fixed fees are a set amount that financial institutions determine, no matter how much money you’re sending abroad. For example, a bank may charge a fixed fee of $5 for every transfer, whether you’re sending $50 or $5,000.
This can be a good option for people who regularly send a large amount of money abroad.
Percentage fees are based on the amount of money that you transfer. Financial institutions may set a specific percentage, such as 1% of your transfer amount, as their fee.
So, if you were to send $100, your fee would be $1, but if you were to send $10,000, your fee would be $100. Note that percentage fees can add up if you’re sending a large amount of money.
Some financial institutions even charge combination fees. This means you pay a small fee for each transfer, as well as a percentage of the amount you’re transferring.
In addition to transfer fees, you may have to pay a certain amount of money on exchanging your Canadian currency. This is when you send Canadian dollars abroad and the recipient receives the money in their local currency.
This is because the financial institution that you choose to send money may charge for the currency exchange. Some may charge a lower fee but may not be clear about the exchange rates, which could result in you losing more money in fees.
Try to choose a financial institution, such as Wise, that offers mid-market exchange rates so you don’t lose too much money on transfers.
You can also check XE.com for the current rates in Canada and the country where you’re sending money to make sure you’re getting a fair deal.
Another important factor to consider when sending money from Canada to another country is how long the transfer is going to take.
Transfer speed varies per financial institution, and you often have an option to pay a higher fee to expedite a transfer.
Some financial institutions can send your money within minutes, while others may take a few days.
I’ll discuss the transfer speeds of different financial institutions further, so you can make an informed decision.
Money Transfer Service Providers
Here’s an in-depth look at some of the most popular money transfer service providers:
Wise (formerly known as Transfer Wise) is one of the most popular money transfer service providers not just in Canada but worldwide.
I’ve personally used it tons of times to transfer money to friends, family members, and even foreign clients.
With Wise, you can send money from Canada to hundreds of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, and Morocco.
To send money using Wise, you need to create an account, which is free. Before you do, you can test one of its features, the Wise calculator, to see how much the fees and exchange rates are for full transparency.
This is the feature I like the most because it lets you know exactly how much your recipient will get.
The transfer fees vary depending on the amount you want to send and your payment method. For example, sending money that you have deposited in your Wise account is cheaper than sending it from a debit or credit card attached to your Wise account.
For example, if you wanted to send $1,000 CAD to the United States using the money in your Wise account, the fee would be $5.99 and your recipient would receive $742.71 USD. On the other hand, if you wanted to transfer the same amount using a debit card, your fee would be $28.26 and your recipient would receive $726.07 USD.
This is one of the easiest — not to mention, most transparent — methods to send money from Canada that I have found so far.
Transfer speeds can also vary depending on where you’re sending money to and which payment method you choose. In general, Wise says transfers take a maximum of two working days, but most transfers can be completed within minutes.
You can make transfers on Wise’s website or you can download the Wise app from the App Store (for iOS devices) or Google Play Store (for Android devices) for more convenience.
Remitly is another popular money transfer service provider in Canada. Like Wise, it’s a digital service with no physical locations, making it easy to keep transfer fees low.
Remitly charges users a fixed fee that changes depending on where you’re sending money to. For example, the fee to send money from Canada to the United States is $2.99 CAD, no matter the amount, and only $1.99 to send $1,000 or less to Spain. Transfers of over $1,000 to Spain is free.
Remitly offers two delivery speed options: economy and express. In most cases, like with Spain and the United States, the fees for both delivery speeds are the same.
When using the express option, your recipient may receive their money within minutes. When using the economy option, it can take three to five business days for your recipient to receive the funds.
Remitly imposes limits on the amount of funds that you can send in 24 hours, 30 days, and 180 days, and the amounts can range from $999 to $60,000. This limit varies depending on where you’re sending money to, but you can request to increase it if you need to send more.
New members of Remitly get a special rate and no fees on their first transfer, so it doesn’t hurt to try this service out. Make your transfer on Remitly’s website or download their app.
World Remit is another digital money transfer service provider that offers competitive rates for international transfers to over 130 countries from Canada.
You can send your money in several ways, including bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile transfers, topping up credit on a prepaid mobile phone, and even home delivery to your recipient.
You need an account to use World Remit; fortunately, signing up only takes less than five minutes.
World Remit claims their fees are 41% cheaper than most banks, including Canadian banks like CIBC, Scotiabank, and Royal Bank of Canada. Their fees do vary depending on the destination country and your payment method, but they offer a fixed rate for all transactions, typically starting at $2.99.
World Remit isn’t upfront about their exchange rate, so ensure you compare the rate you’re getting to current mid-market exchange rates.
Delivery speeds can vary depending on the type of transfer method you choose. Cash pickup, mobile transfers, and mobile top-ups are instant transfers, but bank transfers can take two to three business days to complete. Home deliveries can take between 24 hours to seven business days, depending on where your recipient lives.
Complete your international transfers through World Remit’s website or their mobile app, which you can use on your phone or tablet.
Xoom is a PayPal service that you can use to send money abroad from Canada. You need to create a Xoom account for free to use this service, but if you already have a PayPal account, you can just use that.
You can send money to your recipient’s bank account, debit card, or mobile wallet. You can also send cash for pick up or home delivery, pay international bills, or reload a prepaid mobile phone using Xoom.
Xoom provides a breakdown of all their fees, depending on the transfer method you use. The fees change depending on the amount to be transferred.
For example, if you’re transferring $1,000 CAD to the United States using a debit card, the fee is $21.49, and your recipient receives $733.30 in total.
Transfers to your recipient’s bank account, debit card, or mobile wallet are typically instantaneous. Any other transfers can take one to three business days.
Western Union is one of the original money transfer services, having started offering cross-border money transfers in 2006.
Unlike the aforementioned digital service providers, Western Union has physical locations you can visit to send and receive money in over 200 countries. However, you can also use Western Union’s phone number, website, or app to make transfers.
Western Union gives you the option to check their fees before you make a transfer or register. You can pay by credit or debit card, bank transfer, or cash in-store. Your recipient can then pick up the cash at a Western Union near them or receive it in their bank account.
Fees for each service are different, with cash delivery being the most expensive, starting at $7.00.
Western Union doesn’t offer mid-market exchange rates, so ensure you compare the rate they offer you to determine how much you’re losing in exchanging your Canadian dollars.
Western Union is quite expensive compared to other methods. But it’s convenient since your recipient doesn’t need a bank account. They can just pick up cash by bringing a government-issued ID and the tracking number you received when you made the transfer.
Another way to send money abroad from Canada is by transferring funds from a bank account.
Bank transfers can be cheaper than, say, transferring via Wise if you are sending a large amount of money, such as, for example, over $10,000 CAD.
Normally, it takes three to five business days for funds to be transferred with this method. Also note that there are many parties involved in a regular bank transfer, including:
- Sending bank – the bank in Canada where you’re sending money from
- Receiving bank – the bank in the other country where you’re sending money to
In addition, sending banks and receiving banks follow different regulations when it comes to sending and receiving money. For this and other reasons, it can be difficult to calculate the exact amount of money the recipient will be getting.
In many cases, bank transfer fees tend to be more expensive than what you expected as there might be other fees you might not be initially aware of.
If you want to know if you can get the best rates with a bank transfer, you should try sending small amounts a few times. This way, you can get an idea of what the total fees are for normal transfers before you decide using such method to send large amounts of money.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular Canadian banks’ international transfer options:
The Bank of Nova Scotia, or Scotiabank, is one of Canada’s Big Five banks, and as such, its assets outnumber that of most banks in the country.
The bank’s new customers in Canada can send money internationally for free, but for everyone else, a transfer comes with a $1.99 CAD fee.
You can only send money from your Scotiabank account to your recipient’s bank account, which means the bank’s transfer options are more limited than other financial institutions’.
There’s also a minimum transfer amount of $100 CAD, so this may not be the best option for those who are transferring small amounts.
Also, it can take up to five business days for the recipient to receive the money.
At the time of writing, Scotiabank only allows international transfers to the following countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Dominican Republic
Overall, unless you’re already a Scotiabank customer, we don’t recommend using this bank for international money transfers.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, or CIBC, is another Big Five bank. To use their international money transfer services, you must be a current account holder.
You can send money from Canada to over 120 countries, including the United States, China, and India.
You can send money using cash pick-up at MoneyGram locations, Alipay for account holders in China, Visa debit or credit card, China UnionPay, or bank transfers.
There’s no transfer fee and the money usually arrives within 24 hours, making it a great option for international bank transfers.
What’s more, you can even earn up to $300 CAD in credit on your first global money transfer with CIBC.
Although CIBC owns Simplii, Simplii has its own unique offers and rates. It’s one of the cheaper banks in Canada, and has no physical branches.
Like CIBC, you must be an account holder with Simplii to make a money transfer and you can receive up to $300 CAD in credit with your first global money transfer.
Using Simplii, you can send up to $50,000 CAD to over 130 countries.
Simplii offers the same money transfer options as CIBC, including Alipay, bank transfer, Visa, MoneyGram, and UnionPay. You can send the money from your checking or savings account or a line of credit.
Recipients can receive their funds within one to three business days.
Royal Bank, or RBC, offers international money transfer services to current account holders who can send money from Canada to over 200 countries.
However, not all RBC accounts have this option. If you have a US dollar account or the High-Interest eSavings account, you can’t send money internationally.
Fees for this service are $6 CAD for transfers that are $1,000 CAD or less and $10 CAD for any transfers over $1,001 CAD. Your recipient can receive their funds within one to three business days.
Like with Scotiabank, you can only send money to your recipient’s bank account, so make sure you know the recipient’s account number before doing a transfer.
The Bank of Montreal (BMO)
Bank of Montreal account holders can send money to recipients in over 50 countries, including the United States, Thailand, and Australia.
BMO offers real-time exchange rates, which means you won’t lose as much money exchanging your Canadian dollars to another currency.
BMO offers a flat fee of $5 CAD per transaction, but they waive the fee if you’re sending money to another BMO account in the United States or if you have a premium, platinum, or performance plan.
You can only send money to a recipient’s bank account, so you need their first and last name, their bank code, and their account number. Money gets transferred in two to five business days.
Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank
TD Bank offers more international transfer options than some of the Big Five banks. You can send money using Western Union, Visa, or directly to a recipient’s bank account.
You must be an account holder to use these services, with a TD Canada Trust Canadian or US dollar personal checking, savings, or line of credit account.
Once you have an account, you can get an estimate on the fees and exchange rate for your transfer using TD’s website or mobile app, as these fees vary.
You can send up to $2,500 CAD per transaction every 24 hours and your recipient may receive it within 24–48 hours.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Send Money from Canada?
Although we’ve discussed many international transfer options, you may still be unsure about which provider to choose. Here’s our take.
Wise is one of the cheapest options because they have low fees, especially when making a transfer using your account balance, and they adhere to mid-market exchange rates.
But if you’re sending a large amount of money, using Remitly may be the best option as they offer a fixed-rate fee.
Alternatively, you can use a comparison service from Monito to compare real exchange rate, fee, and delivery speed.
Now, on to You
Sending money abroad from Canada doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it’s never been easier. With so many money transfer service providers, you won’t run out of options.
After reading this article, you should know exactly what to look for before choosing a money transfer service. Watch out for any hidden fees and poor exchange rates to make sure you don’t lose too much of your hard-earned money.
Many of the money transfer service providers we mentioned offer discounts to new customers, so try out a few of them until you find the one you like.